Advice Line For You (ALFY), a new 24/7 health and social care advice line, which has been successfully piloted in the Bo’ness area, has been rolled out across Forth Valley to help older people remain well at home.
ALFY is available on 01324 567247, and is aimed at people aged 65 and over. The service has been developed by NHS Forth Valley and its three council partners following feedback which highlighted that, wherever possible, older people prefer to stay in their own homes.
The new ALFY service does not replace existing services. Local people should still contact 999 in an emergency, or NHS24 on 111 if they think they need to see a GP when their GP surgery is closed and cannot wait until it re-opens.
ALFY is operated by experienced nurses who are able to listen to callers’ concerns, and make sure they receive the right help and support. This could range from offering general reassurance and advice on a wide range of health issues, to signposting callers to relevant emergency social work, voluntary or local services.
Staff are also able to book appointments to attend a rapid access frailty clinic at Forth Valley Royal Hospital where a number of tests or assessments can be carried out, or arrange for a community nurse to visit an older person at home, day or night, if required.
It is estimated it could benefit around 54,000 older people in the Forth Valley area as well as friends, family members and other people who may care for them. NHS Forth Valley has also written to around 3,800 older people across Forth Valley who they think could particularly benefit from this new service.
Irene Warnock, NHS Forth Valley’s Head of Community Nursing, said, “The feedback from some of the initial service users and their families in Bo’ness has been very positive and we already know that it has helped many local people access additional services and support which have enabled them to remain at home rather than having to be admitted to hospital.”
“We hope that, by making the service available to anyone aged 65 and over across Forth Valley, we will be able to help many older people access the services, support and reassurance they require. I would therefore encourage anyone in this age group to make use of this valuable new service or get in touch with us direct if they would like more information.”
NHS Forth Valley District Nurse Sandra Grant, one of the nurses who has been operating the ALFY line, said, “We have received positive feedback from the pilot project which confirms the service is making a real difference to older people. Some of those who have been referred by ALFY to local rehabilitation services said they felt more confident following help from occupational therapy and physiotherapy staff. Another lady, who had fallen in the past, said it was reassuring having the ALFY number. She also felt less frightened when a MECs alarm was installed after we referred her to this service. People in general have found it easier and quicker to get advice and help by phoning ALFY for a range of problems relating to both health and social issues.”
As part of the new service, older people are also being encouraged to develop a personal care plan known as Your Plan, and share this with their family and those people closest to them as well as health and care professionals. Your Plan allows people to document all the important things that matter to them in relation to their health and care needs in the one place. By sharing this information, everyone will know what to do if a problem arises and what support could be given to help people remain as independent as possible in their own home.
A number of information sessions are being organised across Forth Valley to raise awareness of the new ALFY service and answer any questions local people may have.
For further information about ALFY and Your Plan, including three short video clips, please visit the NHS Forth Valley website.